The Fall - New Facts Emerge (Cherry Red)
For a band that has existed around the spiteful and brooding presence of Mark E. Smith for over thirty albums and forty years another release shouldn't pack many surprises but it does. Many have served under his difficult demands, being in The Fall almost a rite of passage, an induction by fire for many a Mancunian musician. Some never fully recuperate from the experience.
At his sneering malevolent best, Smith revolts into style with sublime swagger. The opening "Segue" is a drunken spoons hammering against beer glasses outburst that effortlessly slides into '"Fol De Rol" a guitar driven epic resembling Magazine at their most monochromatic and industrial. European in feel. It could easily pass as John Foxx period Ultravox at their most chillingly Germanic. A searing slab of Metal meets Art Rock. A public image uninhibited. "Brillo De Facto" is more conventional Fall-fare, a throbbing funk base line at war with with manic drums as Smith contorts his voice over the energy a la Punk.
"Victoria Train Station Massacre" has a chilling element of unnerving prediction in its title, given the events of recent months at Manchester Arena. Smith coming on strong like a Northern William Burroughs over a slab of drum and guitar. 'New Facts Emerge 'has an element of an Irish Reel as you've never encountered one before. Dervish-like in its driven nature it is one of the many stand-out tracks on offer. On "Couples Verses Jobless Mid 30's" they sound like a crazier version of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" with all its doom and circumstantial pomp. Almost prog-like it has a meandering and snake-like wildness. Despite at moments giving the impression as that it may derail itself into a cul-de-sac of incoherence, it manfully holds together. Smith's voice is sharp and imperious like a dalek with Northern attitude.
"Second House Now" presents like The Shadows reverting to their skiffle roots with an elderly Cliff Richard pissed on the microphone expressing himself in a way that he never has, before becoming a blistering almost Ramones-esque stomp, whilst "O! Zztrrk Man" fades in like a found piece of 70's punk and is probably the least successful cut of the eleven songs on offer here because it is akin to a segment edited from a jamming session. "Gibbus Gibson" continues with the '60s theme, Smith sounding as laconic and breezy as he can be in these or any other days.
"Groundsboy" possesses a near rockabilly aspect with great guitar licks cresting over the drums, Catchy and infectious it resembles a gothic Stray Cats. However it is "Nine Out Of Ten" that ends and steals the show. The guitar of P Greenway resembles a drowning Hank Marvin. Vital and mesmerising it is almost nine minutes of heavy reverb frenzy and a perfect example of The Fall doing organised chaos with utter brilliance and aplomb.
At this stage in his long career for Smith to release an album that is both challenging, fresh and dynamic is a major coup. In part it is the energy and tightness of this current incarnation that achieves this. Presently ill and having cancelled an American series of shows it is timely to wish this maverick well. He deserves the plaudit of unique, although he has earned it as much at the expense of himself, as it has been to the cost of others. If you aren't a fan, but are even remotely curious give this album a try. It can only enlighten and startle you That can be said of increasingly little these days, but is precisely how new facts can, and do, continue to emerge.